200 Contract Workers Claim Unfair Treatment

MORE than 200 workers will be laid off after the completion of the first phase of the Tsumeb Dundee sulpheric acid plant.

The workers were engaged by Murray and Roberts, the company sub-contracted by OttoTec to undertake structural, engineering and civil works at the acid plant at Dundee precious metals in Tsumeb to construct the N$1,95 billion acid plant.

The disgruntled workers, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Murray and Roberts had cancelled the Namibian workers’ contracts without their consent, while exempting the contracts of the foreign workers.

“We are not yet done with the project but they want to retrench us. We were not even informed of the decision. To make matters worse, it is only the Namibian workers who are being retrenched, while the foreigners are not affected. This is really unfair,” said one of the contract workers.

The worker added that they were only informed of the decision on the day their contracts were terminated.

The workers further alleged that the company wants to replace the Namibian workers with South African and Indian workers for the first phase.

A notice of demobilisation, a copy of which is in possession of The Namibian, states that due to the project nearing completion, the contract workers’ services will no longer be needed.

Murray and Roberts human resources manager Jack Sidebottom declined to comment on the matter, referring all questions to Dundee Precious Metals.

“I am sorry but I cannot comment on that. You will have to call our client (Dundee),” he said.

Dundee’s general manager Hans Nolte said OttoTec was contracted to construct and design their acid plant for which they subcontracted Murray and Roberts to do the job. Nolte said the first phase had been completed.

Louisa Crouse, a senior management officer at OttoTec, declined to comment, saying that she was not authorised to talk to the media.

The acid plant that was due for completion at the end of last year, is now scheduled to be commissioned towards the end of this year.

Based on the expected annual smelter production capacity of 240,000 to 310,000, the plant will produce approximately 270,000 to 340,000 tons of sulphuric acid per annum.

The construction of the plant will see the processing of off – gases from the smelter and its converters, which yield high arsenic content copper, which will improve the working and living conditions around the smelter, as a result of reduced emissions.

The Murray and Roberts South African team was supplemented by more than 200 people extracted from the Namibian community.

Source : The Namibian